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A 7-day trial in the Auckland High Court begins Monday, 14 October, against 14 men in blue concerning the dawn 2008 raid on the offices of Spartan News Limited (this website) and home of Vince and Jane Siemer. A fifteenth defendant is the deputy registrar of the District Court who signed the undated police search warrant
No one was charged as a result of the raid, which was postulated on Vince Siemer publishing the suppressed police affidavit used to hold, without bail, 18 New Zealand citizens in the infamous October 2007 Tuhoe raids (4 of the 18 were eventually convicted of various weapons charges; charges were dropped on the other 14).
The case has been five years in the offing.
Defence Counsel Austin Powell, of the “Constitutional and Human Rights Team” within Crown Law, will first cross-examine Vince and Jane and their daughter of the events of 21 February 2008 before the 14 police defendants tell their work stories. Two weeks ago that was expected to concern the twelve pages of items they seized but never accounted for on the day. However, the week before trial, the police conceded they have been withholding evidence of examination reports on the 5 cell phones they seized, had taken 183 photos inside the home not previously accounted for and cannot find the data the police cloned from three computers they seized.
Crown counsel Powell could only reply in a 7 October email, “I am not able to give priority to any more questions about discovery of documents. We are now a week out from the fixture and there is a great deal of preparation to do. I will attend to this and any other requests if time permits.”
Then-Solicitor General David Collins approved the raids on Tuhoe in 2007 and the Siemers in 2008 but the Court of Appeal ruled in 2011 he could not be sued by Siemers and Spartan News. Mr Collins was appointed a High Court judge in 2012.
In addition to all phones and computers, the police seized tax and business accounts, cameras and even printers. The police claim their active investigation ceased three years ago but admit to still holding unspecified property. The biggest return of items to date was more than 4 years after the raid, on 21 September 2012.
The claim pleads eight causes of action, including unlawful detention and trespass, malice and conversion. The plaintiffs are represented by Yale educated barrister Colin Henry of Albany.